After yet another postponement last weekend Rovers hit the road northwards today with a trip to face familiar foes Arbroath. Dick Campbell's side have been regular opponents over the last few seasons during our spell in League 1 and should represent a difficult test for McGlynn's side. The Lichties are unbeaten in 2021 with wins over Morton and Dunfermline and stalemates against Alloa, Caley, Dundee and Queen of the South. The season opener at Stark's Park seems a distant memory and it would be a surprise were Rovers to run out comfortable winners as they did that day.
The January transfer window saw Dick Campbell dip into the loan market with four new signings coming in. Jake Davidson arrived from Dundee United while Ben Williamson joined from Rangers. Winger Lewis Moore arrive from Hearts to bolster their attacking options. One of the most exciting signings the Gayfield club have made on loan is bringing in Jack Hamilton from Livingston. The forward spent the first half of the season on loan at East Fife and has started in a rich vein of form for Arbroath netting three goals in four games. The Lichties will need to do without former Rover James Craigen who misses the match due to suspension after being sent off against Alloa last weekend.
While our opponents have momentum with their form, they've only won two games at Gayfield from a possible eight. Those wins did come against teams who tend to play aggressive, attacking football (Ayr and Dunfermline). Their only defeats at home have come from Hearts (who had to work tremendously hard in a Friday night fixture) and Alloa. By the same token, Rovers have looked impressive on their travels on the road playing 8 fixtures and taking 14 points from 24 - their only losses have come at Caley Thistle and Dunfermline.
Historically, the games against Arbroath have always been kind to Rovers since the turn of the century. In their last 9 encounters, Arbroath have only won a single game (Colin Hamilton scoring to effectively end any chances of Rovers stopping Campbell's side winning the league in the injury plagued 18/19 season). Outside of this, Rovers have won four games and drawn their remaining 4. Fans will have fond memories of Daniel Armstrong's tremendous free kick just before Christmas 2018 which has been one of the more memorable goals over the last few years.
Team wise, John McGlynn will have a few choices to make across the park. With Mendy's solid performance against Morton, he'll need to decided on his centre back pairing as Kyle Benedictus declared himself fit for today's game in the press. Up top, Gozie Ugwu put in a solid performance against Morton in a partnership with Jamie Gullan while there's the availability of Tammy Abraham. It should be interesting to see whether Manny Duku makes an appearance having seen his playing time reduced over the last few weeks.
Ross Matthews will miss the game with a recurring injury and there's been little word on whether either of Jamie MacDonald or Lewis Vaughan will be fit to appear. Today's game will be a tough task for the Rovers but with just 12 points separating 2nd place from 9th place it's impossible to say how things will end up.
The game is accessible on https://arbroathfc.tv/ and the match costs £12.